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President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 5, 2008
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And, by the time I got done, I came to the impression that this statement (with which I heartily agree) was the fulcrum of the whole book.
Miller breaks Lincoln's Civil War activities down into easily reviewed and analyzed chunks, and in doing so, parses, pulls out, and displays Lincoln's intelligence undergoing presidential growth, meeting the challenges and rising to the occasion.
A couple of other specifics. Miller does an excellent job of defending Lincoln against improperly revisionist historians' (there are properly revisionist historians) charges of racism or similar. Lincoln was moderatly left of center on racial enlightenment, in terms of his day and age, even before becoming president, and grew vastly after taking office. As for colonization ideas, Lincoln was not racist, nor was he alone in proposing colonization, nor was he alone in why he proposed it.
Miller is not a hagiographer, though. He points out that Lincoln did have one notable weakness, indeed somewhat of a failing, in his administration -- Indian affairs. The 1862 Minnesota Sioux uprising and its aftermath are cited as evidence.
That said, had Lincoln served a second term, free from the Civil War, although dealing with Reconstruction, I certainly agree with the implied idea of Miller that Lincoln would have exhibited the same degree of growth in Indian affairs as he did elsewhere.
Abraham Lincoln is rightfully remembered here for the actions he took during the short time he actually served in the White House. This is not a book about Mr. Lincoln's youth, his career in Illinois, or his family life. How this statesman balanced power, people, and ethics in reaching his twin noble objectives is laid out in a most compelling way by William Lee Miller.
(I especially found interesting the material presented on President Lincoln's use of the pardoning power.)
Purchase this book for yourself, or a friend who may question why the world still celebrates a politician who was born almost two hundred years ago.
[NOTE: A more detailed review to follow shortly]
I read this book as part of an ongoing book discussion group by the Lincoln Group of DC. Over a dozen people with interest in Lincoln joined monthly to impart varied and invaluable insights into the meaning of this book and others. My thoughts above come from my own reading and biases, but are greatly influenced by the input from the Lincoln Group discussion group, for which I give my heartfelt thanks and appreciation.
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